We know that BASE jumpers are the world’s daredevils, leaping from cliffs even in high heels and suits. And we know that One World Trade Center, touted as “the number-one terrorist target in the world,” is incredibly easy to break into, even if you’re a 16-year-old boy. So it feels somehow inevitable that these two worlds would collide.
Four men, including James Brady, a 32-year-old ironworker whose reputation throughout New York City earned him the right to physically construct One World Trade Center, have been charged in connection with jumping off it in a bafflingly brave stunt. Oh, the irony:
The story is as fascinating as the video the men recorded is terrifying. Brady was one of the ironworkers who placed the 104th beam, signed by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama—but he was also a private daredevil, already once arrested in December 2012 for trying to leap off a 33-story building in the Bronx.
This latest feat puts that one to shame. Much of the above video is spent tensely waiting for his understandably nervous friend to jump first. “All right, man, you got this,” Brady repeats.
With a GoPro camcorder strapped to his head, Brady leaps off himself shortly after, shooting straight down the side of the skyscraper before releasing his parachute and gliding down an empty main street.
As soon as he lands, maybe in disbelief, he mutters, “Oh f@#$ ” and scrambles to gather his parachute and get out of the street before a car can hit him.
But the story doesn’t end there, because this video was taken on September 30, 2013. What happened between then and yesterday, when the video was uploaded to YouTube, garnering a million views in 24 hours?
That night, a security guard witnessed one of the guys quickly pack up his gear and run away. This led to an initial police investigation, which led them to find video evidence of Brady’s car circling the new American monument, which led to a subpoena of his phone records and emails–which, after months of investigation, led to Brady and his cohorts surrendering themselves this past Monday.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that Brady and his friends had no intention of sharing this video with the world or ever letting another soul know about it. This was their little secret. A secret between an ironworker and the iron on which he worked. No one had to know that they snuck in until the police brought it to the public.
We’ll say it again: that’s irony.